Nairobi, Kenya: Greater use of new technologies, ranging from genomics to mobile phones, could radically improve the understanding and control of animal-borne diseases that cause 2.2 million deaths in humans every year, mostly in developing countries, according to a new report. Remote sensing and satellite technology can be used to monitor changes in land use in order to predict the emergence of disease.
Veterinary technicians can use basic technologies like rapid diagnostic kits to diagnose diseases quickly and report diagnoses via text message to a central data-base.
Poor communities with large livestock populations in developing countries, particularly those in Ethiopia, India, Nigeria and Tanzania, bear the biggest burden of zoonotic diseases that are transmitted from livestock to humans.
These diseases cause 2.4 billion disease cases each year, according to a global study that has mapped zoonoses hotspots.
It says that the treatment and control of zoonotic diseases – such as Rift Valley fever, tapeworms, anthrax, brucellosis and bovine tuberculosis – is hampered by under-reporting, especially in Africa, leading to such diseases becoming endemic on the continent.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, for example, 99.9 per cent of livestock losses do not appear in official disease reports.
“The current reporting system is theoretically good in most countries, but in reality, communication from village commune to a higher level is not working”, said Hung Nguyen, an HSPH public health and ecosystem researcher, and one of the report”s authors.
Better diagnostics, the scaling up of reporting, the increased availability and affordability of vaccines, and measuring the current zoonoses problem and setting targets to reduce it, were all critical to diminishing the problem, said Delia Grace, a veterinary epidemiologist at the ILRI, and the study”s lead researcher.
“The problem is that farmers sometimes graze animals in areas inhabited by wildlife, with livestock picking up diseases such as brucellosis and anthrax. People often open up carcasses without knowing the cause of an animal”s death, and then catch the disease themselves,” said Caleb Wangia, a researcher from the University of Nairobi”s veterinary department.
Raising awareness of the dangers of these activities, in addition to implementing new technologies, is also vital to safeguarding people against animal disease.
Source: All Africa